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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss happens when there is a problem with the ear and hearing is impaired or totally lost. Hearing impairment means something is not working properly in the ear due to a certain condition. The disorder can be unilateral or can affect both ears, depending on the cause.

What are the different kinds of hearing loss?
Hearing loss conditions are divided into two categories: conductive and sensorineural.

Conductive hearing loss (CHL) is due to a problem in the outer or middle ear. Tiny bones in the ear called ossicles transmit sounds through the process of conduction. There are three of these bones in the ear and there may be a point when these ossicles cannot pass on sound properly because the eardrums cannot vibrate properly. One of these reasons could be the presence of fluid in the middle ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) concerns the inner ear. Most often, this condition occurs when the tiny hair cells that conduct sound through the ear are injured or diseased, do not function properly or have prematurely died.

Often, CHL can be reversed; however, in the case of SNHL, the condition is more or less permanent.

Is there hearing loss in children?
Hearing loss counts among the most common birth defects, affecting some three out of every 1,000 babies born.

To effectively determine the likelihood of an infant or a growing child suffering from hearing loss in the future, healthcare providers recommend screening all newborns.

Screening for hearing defects cannot be overemphasized because often, speech concerns in children are due to hearing problems.

Among the most common causes of temporary hearing loss in children are ear infections such as otitis media. After an ear infection, fluid that stays in the ear unnoticed can cause significant hearing problems in children. Fluid that remains in the ear following an infection for more than eight to12 weeks is cause for concern.

Hearing loss can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as:
  • Measles
  • Meningitis
  • Mumps
  • Scarlet fever
It can also be caused by trauma such as:
  • Sudden very loud sounds such as those from firecrackers and others that produce similarly loud sounds
  • Drastic change in air pressure, such as when in an airplane
  • Skull fracture
  • Traumatic perforation of the eardrum, such when an object is inserted into the ear
What are tests for hearing loss?
To diagnose hearing loss, the following that may be performed:
  • Audiometry (an electronic hearing test)
  • Auditory response test
  • Caloric test
  • CT scan of the head (if a tumor or fracture is suspected)
  • MRI of the ear
  • Tympanometry
  • X-ray of the head
A hearing aid or cochlear implant may be provided to improve hearing.Aside from conditions such as ear infections, hearing loss can be genetic in nature.Hearing is a very important part of sensory perception, and preventing its loss is more effective than treating it after the damage is done.

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